Navigating the Issues of Multidisciplinary Student Teams Serving University Spin-Offs
Sean M. O'Connor
University of Washington School of Law
June 6, 2010
CROSSING CULTURES & DISCIPLINES, Gary D. Libecap, Marie C. Thursby, eds., 2010
Gary D. Libecap, ADVANCES IN THE STUDY OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP, INNOVATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH SERIES, Vol. 19, Elsevier JAI, 2010
Improving the commercialization of university research has become a national priority. Most existing programs focus on training and supporting faculty and students to be the entrepreneur. However, programs are also needed to train and support those who will serve the entrepreneur. This Chapter asserts that professionals with specific expertise in serving entrepreneurs are a critical, yet overlooked, part of the “innovation ecosystem” necessary to commercialize university research. It provides an overview of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic at the University of Washington which provides a multi-disciplinary teaching, research, and service platform that assists University spin-offs while developing the next generation innovation ecosystem. Bringing together law, business, and engineering students to work with tech transfer licensing officers and faculty researchers to spin-off a university technology involves many challenges. Yet, it can be done and the benefits are manifold. This Chapter outlines three key issues for this kind of program. First, who is the client: the tech transfer office or the faculty researcher? Second, how to mediate among the different visions for how to commercialize the technology via the spin-off – including whether the technology is ready for commercialization or needs to undergo further translational work. And third, how to ensure that all the different students are being properly supervised and that all project members are keeping appropriate confidentiality towards the technology and business plans. The Chapter will show how the missteps, conflicts, and confusion that naturally arise for each team project actually provide the best teaching moments for team members, supervisors, and faculty alike.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: law, entrepreneurship, innovation ecosystem, commercialization, university research, multi-disciplinary professional teaching programs, university technology transfer, university spin-offsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 1, 2010
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